Mindfulness, Nibbana and role of Maha Sangha

Mindfulness, Nibbana and role of Maha Sangha

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Monday, March 9, 2020 – 01:00
A young monk studying a Buddhist text. Picture by Saman Sri Wedage

The most significant feature of the Buddha Dhamma is awareness- awareness of the present moment, the ‘here and now’ and the capacity to be alive and present; to be achieved by oneself. There is nothing called Zero-state or nothingness. Questioned about the nature of Nibbana, the Buddha maintained silence realising that the answer would lead to further puzzlement. When asked where the world’s end; Buddha replied, “It is in this one fathomed body with awareness, that I state the existence of the world’, its extinction, the path leading to annihilation.” Thus Nibbana does not exist independently from ourselves.

“This, O monks really is the peace, end of all configurations, the forsaking of reincarnation, fading away of desire, detachment, extinction is Nibbana” — Buddha. The origin of the Buddha’s teaching is the requirement to understand the truth not merely at the academic level, but by the direct happening. The real meaning of Nibbana cannot be understood until we have achieved it.

It is not a thing that vocabulary can express in their usual speech or by using descriptions. It is not a place or a condition of relationships comparable to a plane of reality such as a heaven.

Nibbana in this very life

Nibbana can be attained in this very life; it is a positive ‘state’, which has to be realized by the mind. It is not a mere conclusion of craving or bareness effect from blowing out.

Nibbana can be grasped by those who have attained it. Just as the blaze is not hoarded up in a place but rise when fundamental conditions are there, life exists when necessary conditions are fulfilled. To consider diverse propositions was as futile as to contemplate about the path in which a flames had gone once it was extinguished. Just as a sightless does not understand what light is, the mind clouded by greed, rage and delusion will not be able to differentiate the reality of Nibbana. It cannot be evaluated against anything that comes within contact of our mind.

The fable of turtle and fish

Returning from a trip around the land, the turtle was back into the water, to be queried by the fish, why he was absent for a while. The turtle replied that it had been on dry land. The fish, clueless about ‘dry land’, howled out:

“What do you mean by dry land? There is nothing called dry land.” The turtle replied, “I cannot make you realize, but I just arrived from there.”

Confused, the fish demanded to make out what exactly dry land meant, “Can we swim there? Is it cool and damp like water? Does it flow? Does it move in waves?” The turtle replied in the negative. A delighted fish affirmed, “There is no such place called dry land.” The turtle replied, “There is dry land, problem is you never experienced it. You know only water so you throw away it because the exclusivity of water is not there, or it is not similar to water.”

We are the consequences of what we have thought. It is recognized in our thoughts. It is made up of our thoughts. If one talks or act with a wholesome thought, contentment pursues one, like a shadow that never discards.

Mindfulness and bare attention

 

Mindfulness and bare attention have filtered into a conventional culture as well as contemporary psychoanalysis. The Buddha sensed that it was crucial to develop right mindfulness for all facets of life in order to monitor things as they actually are. He encouraged enthusiastic thought and awareness of all things through the four fundamentals of mindfulness: Contemplation of the body of feeling of states of mind and of experiences. Mindfulness is about understanding the present moment with an approach of sincerity and originality to all experiences.

Correct mindfulness, leads one to free oneself from manias. If you are aware of what is happening now with all your being, with your mind, with your total energy, with your brain, and with your nerves; listening without contrasting, not opposing, not accepting, but actually with total awareness: then there is no being who is observing, who is listening. If you are aware of the howling of dogs, listen with your mind, listen with your heart, with your whole body— don’t say I hate it, just listen conscientiously, if you do, then there is no observer. You see an image without the interference of thought.

It is the observer who produces fear. No observer, no fear; the observer is the core of thought, it is the ‘Me’, the ‘I’, the ‘Self’, the Ego; the observer is the sensor.

When there is no thought, there cannot be an observer. It is open for us, and if we develop into as pure, as gentle, as wise, as sympathetic, and as totally self-controlled as an Arhant, then shall we make out, then shall we understand, and comprehend ‘Nibbana’. You yourself will have to achieve it. Comprehend Dhamma, through mindfulness that is Nibbana.

There is a hazardous trend in increase of drug use. The management and clamp down seems to be somewhat improved and effective under law enforcement authorities helped by tri-forces. The efficiency of the Defense services and the police are encouraging.

Examining the issue at deeper levels, one could arrive at a rational conclusion, that most of the above mentioned evils have resulted due to the worsening of moral standards and the little admiration paid to the cultural and social ideals by all concerned and the failure of the religious institutions to provide essential direction and guidance.

Spiritual leadership

The governments has little option, it is mainly the responsibility of the religious institution, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, and Islam clergy, who should seriously step in and offer spiritual leadership without confining their services to the basics. Offering pansakula, receiving alms, preaching and sermonising, administering the sacrament, and attending to matrimonial ceremonies are unimportant compared to the sacred duty expected of them in this regard. They also should guide their followers, especially the youth in the correct path.

A Maha Sangha Council led by Mahanayake Theras would certainly influence the society and the State and also the political leadership. Similar situations have occurred in the past, where Maha Sangha came forward to quench dangerous trends as noted here. Can a Sangha council prohibit monks from direct involvement in demonstrations, politics, contesting elections and adorning the political platforms? The saffron robe is held in high respect by Buddhists. Can such a council appoint an active ‘Sanga-Adhikarana’ to take up such cases and even disrobe or expel some of those involved in corrupt business activities they operate, rarely, from the temples itself?

May all beings be happy!

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